Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Decorations on travellers’ graves, Romford

Two graves in Romford Cemetery, London Borough of Havering.

Grave of William ‘Bluey’ Saunders, a respected leader of the local traveller community, who died on 27 June 2011, aged 70.  According to the Southend Echo of 14 July 2011, a procession of 100 vehicles made its way to his funeral, which was attended by 2,000 people; 12 pick-up trucks were needed to transport the floral tributes.  The MailOnLine of 12 July reported that ‘travellers are thought to have spent thousands of pounds on lavish floral displays – including 5ft tall hearts and horseshoes and a traditional Romany caravan’.

Grave of Maritana (Mari) Betty Hedges, d. 15 April 2020, and Thomas, ‘known as Ely’, Hedges, d. 6 March 2010. The back of the headstone shows a traditional gypsy caravan, under the heading ‘the good old days’ revealing the Hedges’ traveller heritage, as does the cock, which is sometimes found placed on travellers’ graves,  presumably referring to their  former enthusiasm for cock-fighting.

All photographs taken 26 December 2023.

Edited 2 February 2024.

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